From the timing of the re-organization, Guangming Daily has clearly made a careful decision.  First, the action took place at the end of December.  Basically, the Beijing Times subscription orders for year 2006 would have been mostly sent in by then.  Secondly, if the workers protest and quit immediately, the newspaper can save a significant sum in year-end bonuses (note: the Chinese New Year begins near the end of January).

The situation is now clear.  From the experience of previous efforts to re-organize newspapers, Beijing Times will not be able to maintain its edge and dash, and it will probably become another government mouthpiece like most of the newspapers now.  The sister publications Southern Weekend and Southern Metropolis Daily are examples.

The changes begin at the senior level with core members being removed or replaced one at a time.  This causes the quality of the newspaper to tumble.  Some Beijing Times workers believe that before Guangming Daily took action against Beijing Times, they must have obtained the consent of Southern Daily.  Therefore, they believe that they were betrayed.  At the moment, some of the editors and reporters at Beijing Times are hunting for jobs and it is expected that a considerable number of core members will be departing after the Spring festival.

As Beijing Times has established a good brand image and won a certain social trust, Guangming Daily will be able to enjoy the fruits in the short term.  Yet, the parent organization Guangming Daily has few readers and low circulation, so it is hard to see any long-term prospect.

I love the first paragraph.  It is all about money.  Whatever happened to ideological purity?

Reporter: Concerning the drop in the tv ratings for Artistic Life recently, how do you see it?

Zhu: ... Television ratings are just something cranked out by a machine.  It remains to be seen whether there is any science in it.  It is just some data for reference.

Reporter: You do not value ratings then?

Zhu: I feel that the media ought to have responsibility.  This is not about making up something that will attract eyeballs.  The more important thing is to let people think and to bring them meaningful programs, especially in a country like China with a deep traditional culture.  If this is just about pursuing television ratings, I could just bring a dog along.  This is the Year of the Dog, right? (laughs).  On today's program, I will shave off the hair on the left side of the dog's head.  Then I will ask the audience to send SMS to guess which other part I will shave tomorrow?  This kind of entertainment will definitely raise the ratings.  If you want to compete just for ratings, then there are too many ways to do it.

Reporter: Do you think that this is a form of entertainment?

Zhu: It is entertainment, but it would be wrong to say that it is purely about entertainment.  It is even worse to entertain for the sake of entertainment.  The program group receives a ratings report each week.  When this week's ratings are lower, some group members get worried.  So I tell them, "You do your own work well and don't let that affect you.  It is normal for the ratings to go up or down.  For example, when Jewel Of The Palace was on air, its ratings were very high and the other programs had lower ratings.  When that show is over, the other programs will come up again.  There is nothing strange about that, right?

[in translation] During the visit to the Three Rivers Source Protected Zone, a pretty local girl was the guide.  She clearly loved her hometown.  I asked her how could a person who loved the Three Rivers Source be actively supporting the construction of the electricity generator plant.  She looked at me strangely and said, "The electricity generator plant will be good for the people.  You don't expect us to be so impoverished as to not even have a piece of cloth to cover our arses in the name of environmental protection?"

... Many places along Nujiang are nationally designated poor counties.  The counties generate less than 20% of their financial budget from their own revenue (note: the rest is picked up by the provincial and national governments) ... I visited a peasant home and I observed their "house" and their belongings.  It was enough to make me feel the sort of sadness that causes people's eyes to ache.  A local official responsible for children aid told me that I was only seeing those families that had the means to live.  Previously, they had accompanied a UN aid official to a village that was destroyed by a mudslide.  For one family, their entire possession was a blanket issued by the aid department and a small piece of cured meat that had turned black.  The householder said that this piece of meat was meant to be saved for later, but some had to be given to the sick child that day.

... While I was there, the most frequent thing that I heard was this: Are you against the electricity generator plant?  How about this?  You gather all the opponents here in Nujiang canyon and if you can survive for two months eating the food that the Nujiang people got out of their land through their own labor, then maybe you are qualified to start talking about opposing the electricity generator plant!

[in translation]  Four months ago, Yu Hua opened his personal blog and this became a sensational news item.  Very quickly, the number of visitors went into the hundreds of thousand, and Yu Hua enjoyed it greatly.  He reflected: "Can I sell so many books in such a short time?"  Yet, four months later, Yu Hua is rueful.  He told the reporter frankly yesterday: "I never thought that the netizens would be so enthusiastic in leaving comments.  I started off wanting to answer every comment, but now I found that to be impossible."

Apart from this, the complex nature of the Internet environment also surprised Yu Hua, who is new to using the Internet.  There were malicious attacks, there were self-promotions and there were people who want to use the space to post advertisements.  Yu Hua had no better idea than to delete the "trash" as quickly as possible.  Compared to his early enthusiasm, Yu is now more low-keyed after these 'setbacks.'  He is no longer writing new posts, but he is just copying some lesser known essays written over the past ten years.  "I want to be lazy, so I thought of this method.  If I post once every few days, the inventory should last three or four years easily."

After attending a class on "opinion battle" for editors-in-chief, you told us back at the office that you have "finally totally understood."  What did you understand?  You understood that "propagandizing" comes from "needs."  At the meeting, you pointed to our reporter who was covering the Ren Changxia case, "Everybody knows that the relationship between Ren Changxia and her husband was very tense, but when you write the case up, you should write that relationship as being better.  This is a matter of need." ...

As for "opinions", you "understood" how it came about.   You can create rumors and tell lies.  You said, "This was how America went to war against Iraq!"  Never mind whether America was like that or whether American media were like that.  Even if that were true, we should not imitate their example.  Creating rumors and lies based upon "needs" means making up and re-arranging facts.  Such behavior have been thoroughly rejected by Chinese media, at the repeated insistence of the Central Propaganda Department.  You came over from the People's Daily.  Did the colleagues at People's Daily not reflect with pain and regret that their "propaganda" and "opinions" during the periods of the Great Leap Forward, the Anti-Rightist Campaign and the Cultural Revolution" caused grave damage to the country and the people?  Are such behavior not to be rejected thoroughly forever by all party newspapers, including our newspaper?  Did you not notice when you spoke about how you "finally totally understood," some people in the audience were snickering?

There were in fact some honest exchanges between the two later on and Li Erliang would turn out not to be an implacable party hack from those notes.  Fast forward to January 2005.  In the recollection by Li Datong (see previous post):

On January 11, the Freezing Point special article published Mr. Yuan Weishi's essay: "Modernization and History Textbooks."  Mr. Yuan used solid historical material to criticize the history textbooks used in junior middle school.  The essay was sent to the editor-in-chief for review, and he did not agree with its publication for the reason is that textbooks represent national activities that cannot be criticized.  I disagree with this reason.  So we can't talk about party history, but why we can't we talk about late Qing history?  Mr. Yuan's essay only offered some historical materials and conlcusions known to everyone in the history field.  So why can't it be published?  Of course, this subverted the sayings in the middle school next book, but the television drama <<Going Towards The Republic>> was even much more subversive and CCTV let a hundred million people watch it.  This reason seemed to have convinced the editor-in-chief, who agreed to publication with some minor deletions and editing.

On January 25, Freezing Point was shut down for re-organization.  Included in the notice from the Central Propaganda Department is this item:

1. A notice of criticism will be directed at China Youth Daily party deputy secretary and editor-in-chief Li Erliang and China Youth Daily Freezing Point Weekly editor Li Datong;

2. China Daily will stop publication of Freezing Point for the purpose of re-organization, and impose appropriate economic sanction(s) against the responsible person(s).  Freezing Point Weekly will stop publication for re-organization as of January 25, 2006.

Li Erliang may have lost his New Year bonus this time.  Poor baby!

[loose translation; loose because he is too funny and I can't reproduce it in English]  Since you know that Comrade Anti has ruined two blogs already, he must have ulterior motives over at Sina.  We know that Sina blogs have the characteristic of being clean -- like an obsessive-compulsive person, they clean the space every day until it is spotless (with the exception of the social and entertainment news sections, of course).  So a dirty-minded person like Anti wants a Sina blog for one and only one reason -- he wants to become a human suicide bomb to check the sensitive keywords at Sina, to test the endurance of the editors and the nerves of the supervisor (and whether the delete key on the supervisor's keyboard is functioning properly).  So Comrade Anti will be a mine sweeper who is going to step into the minefield and detect the sensitive words one by one.  In the end, though, we all know that Comrade Anti's blog will be dead.  The only question is the manner of death ... Will he die alone in the minefield?  Will he take Sina down with him by detonating the suicide bomb?  Or will he become yet another Sina celebrity blogger and forget about the mission?


If the Internet had been around [during the Cultural Revolution], the young people would have been too busy sitting around all day in front of the computer montior doing MSN or ICQ.  Who has the time to run around the streets waving the Three Red Flags?  With the Internet, the young people are too busy viewing pictures, writing blogs, playing online games, BT, eMail ... in the Internet world, every young person is his/her own Chairman Mao, issuing orders and transforming the world.  Who needs the party committee secretary or the struggle committee director to issue orders?  At various comment sections, the "angry young men" (="shitty" young men) are exchanging gossip and forming their own virtual Gang of Four.  Who is going to be loyal to the ghastly-looking uncles and aunties in Beijing city?

That is a very interesting idea -- the Cultural Revolution would not have been feasible in the Internet era.  If true, then we are marching down an irreversible path.

I wish somebody would take the position of the typical Chinese internet user. If one is going to advocate a boycott, I would like the criteria to be the material improvement in the life of the typical Chinese internet user.  I think talk of boycotting Google is a bad idea. People in China will not appreciate that because these are esoteric issues for them.
There are a number of search engines and there are many different ways of searching. People want more choice. Don't tell them they are free by advocating a boycott.  I conducted a little test. I searched for mention of the circumstances under which a supplement called Bingdian (Freezing Point) was recently banned in China. The editor of this supplement had written a letter of complaint.  Any mention of this on the local Baidu search engine has disappeared. In fact, when you put a banned search term in, the engine shuts down. If you put in a term like June 4 [the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre] the result is "Not Found". And then you can't search again for 30 minutes. It's a very upsetting experience.  But with there are different ways of finding things. You can try any number of subtle combinations. Google gives you more opportunities to triangulate.

There are all kinds of devious ways in which internet democracy can work. Better to have something than nothing.  People are missing the point if they set up the debate that Google is evil. In the end it's down to local laws. The real battle is for the Chinese to fight this law. 

[in translation]  Compared to the mainland, Hong Kong blogging is weaker.  Sidekick, who gets about 1,000 visitors a day, is said to be one of the most popular.  She was also invited to attend the Chinese Blog Conference in Shanghai last year.  "Hong Kong bloggers are quite diversified.  There are people who write about technology, and there were people who write short stories."  Sidekick claims: "Many people read me because I write about different things.  I present technology, I write about fashionable things and I comment on current affairs.  Everything.  Other people can easily reach my website through search engines."

Sidekick believes that Hong Kong blogs are weak because there are no standout bloggers such as Mu Zimei and Furong Jiejie and therefore cannot create a heat wave.  Secondly, Hong Kong did not have too many blog service providers previously until the recent appearance of Yahoo's yblog,'s hompy and's mysinablog.  This was fully two years behind the mainland.  Thirdly, Hong Kong people do not have great writing ability and they have too little time, so there are fewer serious bloggers.  "You see that movie critic 'Mike' (邁克) chose to set up a blog at blogcn.  So he may have seen that there are more readers over there.  This shows that there is no heat wave in the Hong Kong blogs."

In my opinion, none of these things should be a barrier.  Why do I say that?  It is the definition of the Internet -- it breaks down borders!  There is no difference between Hong Kong, mainland China or anywhere else anymore.  First, if you want to become Muzimei, Furong Jiejie or whoever, you can do it anywhere because it can't be that difficult, eh?  Secondly, who cares about where the blog service provider is located anyway?  Thirdly, it is not about writing skill or time on hand; it is about the will and desire to do so.  For example, I am convinced that a Hong Kong person can easily become the top Internet political commentator/blogger for Greater China.  Furthermore, this person will have some built-in advantages, for this is where borders do matter as he/she has open access to information and has no censorship.
Anyway, I now need another project for the rest of year 2006 ...

In January 2006, Kuomintang chairman Mr. Ma Ying-jeou gave a speech to encourage his Kuomintang Youth League members and told this joke: "I hope that the Kuomintang Youth League can produce a Hu Jintao some day."  I believe that this is the most ill-considered joke that he had made in his entire political career.

Via ChineseNewsNet, Ma Ying-jeou had to explain the next morning (note: Lung Yingtai had an open question as to whether she is influential -- this has just been answered).  He said that he was not praising the Communist Party.  He only wanted to emphasize that the KMT must also value the views of young people, or else they would be worse than even the Communist Party.  He implied no value judgment with respect to Hu Jintao.  He pointed out that he also mentioned Germany's former Chancellor Schroder at the time as well.
The reason that this story is being reported at ESWN has nothing to do with Ma Ying-jeou.  It has to do with the fact that when the question was raised, the KMT chairman felt compelled to respond the same morning that the essay appeared in a Taiwan newspaper, whereas the direct addressee of the open letter, Hu Jintao, is unlikely to ever acknowledge its existence.


[in translation]  2.  The common people should take the position of being the masters of the nation.  They should take a detached position and reserve the right to retain or reject any political party.  Therefore, political parties can only have temporary supporters, but not permanent party members.  Otherwise, when the common people become members of one political party or the other, the political parties become organizations through which the people oppose and fight each other, and then the people would have lost their detached position as the masters.


[in translation]  3.  A political party depends on the nation for survival, and therefore the goal of the political party should be to promote the political progress of the nation.  A political party should recognize that the other political parties are their co-workers in promoting the progress of the nation.  Therefore, it should regard all other parties as friendly parties.  The parties should not give up the national interests in order to grab political position and power, and they should not be hostile and antagonistic to each other.

... 以近年來台灣的選舉情況來說,代表各政黨的候選人,大多數會夥同該黨之公職人員,舉辦所謂造勢大會,或刊登巨幅廣告號召自己的黨員及支持者,一起來批評痛罵,甚至於誣蔑其他政黨及其候選人,並無理性的政策辯論。所以每一次選舉,幾乎都讓台灣的族群更加分裂,階級更加對立,選後仍然互相仇視、惡鬥,使整個國家和社會陷入紛擾不安。

[in translation] ... In the recent elections in Taiwan, the candidates representing the various political parties worked together with the public officials of the party to hold huge rallies, or place huge advertisements to call together their party members and supporters in order to criticize, denounce and even defame other political parties and their candidates without bothering with any rational policy debates.  After each election, there is greater divisiveness between the social groups and greater class antagonism in Taiwan.  After the election is over, they continue to hate and fight with each other, causing the nation and society to fall into turmoil and instability.

Can Lin Yi-hsiung be dismissed as a nutcase?  Please refer to December 2005 Comment #059.  Nobody has suffered more personally.  One of his nicknames is The Saint.

  • Ordinary Iraqis bear brunt of war -- Mike says, "Jill was passionate about this story, one of the first she filed for us. For her, it was one of the most important to tell about the war in Iraq. And this particular piece led to an outpouring of financial contributions for Zeinab Yasseen and her family from Monitor readers. It was one of those pieces that made an immediate difference."
  • Old brutality among new Iraqi forces -- "Long before revelations of secret prisons in Iraq's Ministry of Interior, Jill was reporting on allegations of increasing brutality within some the country's security forces," says Mike. "It was her ability to find trusting sources that put her on the leading edge of this important story."
  • Sectarian strife tears at neighbors -- Mike says that "Jill is well aware that traveling around Iraq is dangerous for journalists. But what she often talks about is how dangerous Iraq has become for its ordinary citizens. Especially if they wander into the wrong neighborhood. Here she writes about how the growing sectarian divide in Iraq has led to neighborhoods segregated along religious lines."
  • What Sunni voters want -- "Before Iraq's Dec. 15 parliamentary election, Jill was embedded with the marines in the mostly Sunni Anbar province. On routine patrols through villages around Huseybah, she used her Arabic language skills to speak with people on the street about what they hoped to achieve in the upcoming election," according to Mike. "Unlike the vote for the interim parliament, this time Sunni Arabs were planning to come out in force to the polls. And in this story, Jill and her colleague Ilene Prusher revealed that while Sunni Arabs might be joining the political process, many of them were not turning away from supporting the antioccupation insurgency."

Memoirs of a Geisha, the hit film based on a best-selling book, has run into trouble in China, home to its leading actresses. Prompted by fears that it will further inflame already rampant anti-Japanese feeling, Chinese film censors have cancelled the planned release of the movie next month.  China's two most famous actresses, Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li, play the leading roles in the film, which was initially approved by the censors. But the state-run Film Bureau has changed its mind. Mao Yu, director of the bureau's propaganda and publishing section, believes Memoirs poses "complex" problems and is "too sensitive". ...

One blogger said: "She's sold her soul and betrayed her country. Hacking her to death would not be good enough." Other bloggers claimed that casting of Zhang as the geisha Sayuri is the equivalent of a Jewish actress playing a Nazi.  With Sino-Japanese relations at their lowest point in decades, the authorities are worried the film will revive lingering resentment over the Japanese treatment of Chinese women before and during the Second World War. Tens of thousands of women were raped by Japanese troops during the infamous Nanjing Massacre in 1937. Thousands more were among the estimated 200,000 Asians forced to work as "comfort women" in Japanese military brothels during the war.

So the Internet gets blamed again for inflaming passions?  Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the movie Memoirs of a Geisha has opened to little fanfare.  There was much more interest in The Chronicles of Narnia (see Alison Lurie's review).


[in translation]  A bad habit of people involved in social movements is well known -- your position is everything and it is clear who the friends and enemies are.  If you are involved with this, you will know how hard it is.  But the criticism against Sing Tao was not a spontaneous reflex.  It began with a certain blogger who does not usually participate in demonstrations.  Some people got very angry, but the principal support group HKPA did not have the time and energy for it.  The Koreans felt aggrieved, but they did not mind much.  So it was up to the people who are regular demonstrators plus another bunch of people who came out of nowhere to express their anger.

So it is up to me to explain how I got this reputation of not participating in demonstrations.  I am of an age that would make me a lot older than the blogging generation out there.  In my youth, I have personally witnessed social movements such as the I Wor Kuen, Asian Americans For Equal Employment, the Diaoyutai defense, the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards, Vietnam war protests, etc.  With due respect, every movement that I have seen was eventually hijacked for other purposes.  Come to think of it, I have even personally hijacked some movement for completely different purposes.
Today, I will still go and demonstrate for a cause.  But I will be damned if I let someone else hijack my presence and use it for some other purpose.  What do I mean?  The following is a photo from the December 4, 2005 march in Hong Kong.  Take a close look at the banners.

While I may march for "People Power," I'll be damned if I am going to celebrate the 'fact' that 6 million Communist Party members have resigned because they heeded the call of a certain 'cult.'  
You can see a lot more examples at my own photos of the 2005 7/1 March.  The organizers said that that 21,000 persons marched to support universal suffrage and to condemn government-business collusion.  Meanwhile, I can count 2,000-3,000 South Asian domestic helpers for whom universal suffrage and government-business collusion cannot possibly be more remote from their minds (note: they will probably get a pay cut if universal suffrage were in place when the popular opinion of Hong Kong voters really mattered).  Also, how shall I reconcile that 21,000 persons marched for gay rights and 21,000 persons marched against homosexuality?  They can't be both true and the only truth is that 21,000 persons served as propaganda material.
Pardon me for being cynical -- these large demonstrations are exercises of mutual exploitations.  The organizers have a particular axe to grind, and other groups leeched themselves onto the cause even if they have no affinity for that stated cause but they wanted to showcase their own issues along the parade route.  I won't object to a carnival parade in which everybody celebrated their own individuality, but I do object to seeing the press releases about how everybody (and absolutely everybody) marched to a particular cause on that day.
So if they want to hold a candlelight vigil against Sing Tao for that particular article, I will be there.  But if someone wants to bring up government-business collusion, I'll leave.  If they want to hold a mass rally for universal suffrage, I refuse to be tallied as supporting the Nine Criticisms, or objecting to the use of Li Ka-Shing name for the Hong Kong University School of Medicine, or advocating the right of the Taiwanese people for self-determination.
This is not an unusual sentiment in Hong Kong.  In a sense, this is the big elephant in the house that nobody wants to talk about.  To see this point, you will have to reconcile how a majority of the people support universal suffrage according to public opinion polls but a much smaller proportion shows up for demonstrations.  You may think 100,000 demonstrators is a big number, but the public opinion polls suggest that the support level is more like three or four million.  Why won't the rest of the people come out?  I assert that they won't for the same reasons why I won't.
For another example, check out InMediaHK.  Here a demonstration by the Hong Kong Professional Teacher's Union is represented by this picture at Tai Kung Po with a banner of the DAB political party.  Was that the reason why the demonstrators went out there for?

Holding a photocopy of a news clipping dated January 5, a resident of Sanjiao township in Zhongshan jabbed his finger in the air.  "I want to ask [provincial party secretary] Zhang Dejiang what he really means by the 'three stern demands'? How could the police beat civilians who just asked for what they deserve?"  The news clipping was one of the front-page editorials published by Guangdong media last month hailing a speech made by Mr Zhang.   In the speech, he demanded provincial officials observe three rules when overseeing land requisitions, one of which states building cannot start until farmers have been paid full compensation.

Isn't this a superior strategy to: "We will not talk unless Zhang Dejiang is removed"?

Radically happy Apparently Hong Kong's radicals aren't radical enough for the real radicals. A Web site calling itself "Target: WTO - Derail, Dismantle, Destroy!" carries an open letter to the Hong Kong People's Alliance, accusing the HKPA of timidity and accusing them of siding with the police at the WTO confab. "How can the HKPA legitimate the police force, negotiate and follow all rules set out by the police and the HK government when they are protecting the most illegitimate institutions?"asks an activist named Amardeep. He also had concerns about the lack of direct action on the march. Tuesday's festivities, including the pepper spray, should have cheered Amardeep up.

In My Response to the Standard's Outrageous Representation, Amardeep responds:

First of all - I, Amardeep, am not a man; I am a woman. Clearly, this person from the Standard who wrote this article did not interview me.

Secondly, the author took one quote from my two- page open letter to justify that I accused HKPA of timidity by not being direct action enough. At no point in my letter did I view HKPA to be an organization of cowards.

Thirdly, I wrote the letter about a week before the MC6. Where did this author get the following idea of my feelings of the march that happened on Tuesday, Dec 13th: "He also had concerns about the lack of direct action on the march"? The author has made unqualified facts and feelings of people in the article to drive his media propaganda.

Fourthly - NO! Pepper Spray did NOT cheer me up! It did anything but cheer me up. In fact on Friday, December 15, 2005, I was with the women's march helping deliver Pepper Pig Stomach Soup for WTO's cold-blooded exploitations. Maybe I should reiterate our (women's) statements, "Pepper, is for soup, not for abuse." I assert woman's right to food soveriengty. 

"Microsoft, Yahoo and others are helping to institutionalize and legitimize the integration of censorship into the global IT business model,'' said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former Beijing bureau chief for CNN now specializing in Web censorship.

It's all futile, though. China will find it harder and harder to police fast-changing technologies and fast-learning bloggers. All Chinese consumers may remember years from now is how the biggest names in technology once helped keep them down. Along with a Chinese firewall, they may be creating barriers between themselves and future users.

I'd like to see the country's consumers boycott Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and others. It's just not clear that the message would reach many in China. 

Okay, let's supposed that the Chinese consumers heed William Pesek's call and boycott Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and others.  They don't have to use MSN Spaces because they know that they always have Chinese blog service providers such as blogcn and bokee.  Here is an interview with Hu Zhiguang, founder and chairman of blogcn (Business Week):

Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between the blogosphere in the U.S. and in China?
A: The difference between China and the U.S. is quite large. The U.S. has many famous bloggers, and they have a big influence. In China, because of the political environment problem, it's not possible to have that sort of thing.  So [Chinese blogs are] more lifestyle- and entertainment-oriented. But Chinese bloggers are more willing to express themselves than American bloggers. Because elsewhere in America there's more freedom, so the methods of expression are more [varied].

Q: But, as you say, the political environment in China means there's a lot that people can't express in their blogs.
A: Sometimes there are people who write about Taiwanese independence and the Falun Gong.

Q: And what happens when they try to do that?
A: We set up keywords for our programs, like "Falun Gong," and when you type in those keywords, you cannot post them. It just shows up as stars. Everybody has that.

Q: People can avoid using those words, though.
A: The problem exists, but it's not a big one. We can immediately fix it, and it's not a problem. Maybe there are some words that aren't in the keywords, but if they're published, they don't fit the content. Then the Internet police will call us, and we will delete it within 24 hours. If it lasts on the site too long, then maybe it will make some trouble. Maybe I will have to go to the police station.

Q: How often have you had to do that?
A: That has never happened. The phone calls seldom happen - it's only four or five times in two years. We have a specialist who takes care of this. These people [who post the forbidden things] are not real bloggers. They know it will be deleted.

So now do you think freedom and democracy will arrive as a result of Chinese consumers boycotting Yahoo/Google/Microsoft and using blogcn instead?

I ask once again: for the next person who wishes to comment or make proposals on this subject, please explain how the Chinese Internet users will be substantively better off as a result of your recommendations.
Meanwhile, for Americans, if MSN, Yahoo and Google are so evil, why don't you boycott them?  That is the question that the Chinese want to know.  Are you standing in solidarity with the Chinese or not?

Two journalists in eastern China have been jailed for ten and six years for publishing an unauthorised magazine that exposed local land disputes. Court officials in Zhejiang province said the men were also charged with illegal business operations and fraud. The Beijing Times says the magazine, "New China Youth", was registered in Hong Kong in 2002 but this had no validity on the mainland. Last month, a Xinhua news agency report said the journalists had threatened the local government that they would publish stories if the peasants' demands were not met. 

Hmmm?  What do you think?  Is this the usual big bad China story?  For the details about what was happening with New China Youth, please see the previous post: How To Get Rich As A Reporter In China.  Will Reporters Without Borders fight for the two journalists?

... The police used Cantonese to tell us to stop outside this room, leave all our stuff on the outside and then go in to be searched.  I said, "Undo my handcuffs!" because I couldn't remove my stuff otherwise.  The policeman looked at me in surprise and it was clear that he was unprepared for this.  So he asked another police officer to get some tool, and this other person brought back a tiny craft knife with a blade about 0.5 cm long.  Then he tried to slash and drag at the plastic cuff, and even wanted me to get out of my own cuffs by myself.  Then it was the turn of the mainlander Wen who yelled: "Be careful about my clothing!  They are brand name products!"  Then those two had a quarrel conducted in Cantonese, which was basically about how the Hong Kong police arrested people for no reason.  While they were quarreling, I stuffed everything on me -- headband, slogans, passport, digital camera -- into my bookbag.

Bang! The cell door was slammed shut.  The mainlander asked the police to give him a blanket.  "Later," said the policeman.  After a while, Wen's blanket came.  We introduced ourselves to each other.  The American said: "I am American.  My name is Sascha.  I work as a reporter in mainland China and I came here by myself.  I did not apply for a reporter's pass."  The Japanese said: "I am Yukihiro.  I work for a Japanese labor website."  The mainlander Wen said, "I am a tourist.  Look at me.  I don't even have my jacket here, beacuse I let my Hong Kong friends take it.  I told them to leave first, because I thought that I could get out immediately.  I didn't imagine that Hong Kong would be even more Chinese than China!"

... During the day, Wen spoke with the police in Cantonese and found out that they said that we could leave soon because the females have been released already.  Wen Zhiming translated the conversation into putonghua (Sascha was very good in Chinese), and then I translated it into English for Yukihiro.

... I chatted with Yukihiro about media and websites, and then I chatted with Wen about "one country, two systems" and the problems of going across borders.

... At around 7pm at our cell, Wen was asked by the police: "Are you the one from China?  Get up and come out!"  We embraced with Wen one after another and left the contact information.  He said, "Please come and look me up in Guangdong!"  But Wen would be walking out of this detention cell only to be charged in court.

I do not know for sure what happened with Wen.  The speculation was that he was selected for prosecution because he was tall and tanned like a farmer.  As a member of the fourteen, there was no specific evidence against Wen initially.  Over the next three weeks, it is known that the none of the original 80 listed police witnesses identified Wen (nor any of the other 13 suspects).  None of the additional police witnesses called in for the 'confrontation' line-up (that is, each witness got to walk up and stare at the 14 suspects in close) picked out Wen.  Therefore, Wen was released.
Was this another triumph of the famous rule of law in Hong Kong?  Well, the rule of law is not just about whether Wen was freed eventually, but also about why he was arrested and charged in the first instance.  Did the Hong Kong police make an honest mistake, or did they charge these fourteen people out of political expediency?  You should never expect to get a straight answer even if it seems quite obvious by now.  (Postscript: I expect that the response (if any) is that the police had the evidence but they cannot tell us at this time to protect the privacy of the individuals)

How many bloggers are there in Hong Kong?  There are no accurate statistics, because Hong Kong blogs are hosted by a variety of BSP's around the world.  But it is undeniable that the use of blogs is limited in Hong Kong, the number of bloggers is relatively small and the circle of bloggers is not wide.  On both sides of the straits and in the world Chinese community, Hong Kong is a leader in termsof freedom of speech and adoption of new technology, but its people have less desire and quality to express with words.  The young people of Hong Kong particularly have been immersed extensively in audio-visual media and colloquial culture.  Therefore they are less interested and skilled in verbal expression, whereas blogs are primarily verbal in nature.  Furthermore, the blogger spirit is about innovation, whereas Hong Kong students are used to the force-fed-duck type of education system and tend to conform.  Thus, blogging in Hong Kong remains to be developed.

There is no point in arguing with this kind of essay.  Why bother?  As the Super Girl theme goes -- if you want to blog, just blog.

NOT, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee; 
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man 
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can; 
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be. 
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan 
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan, 
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Alas, I am aged and tired.  So when I read the interview How China Controls the Internet of Nicholas Bequelin, the China research director for Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong, by Business Week's Bruce Einhorn, I can do no more.  Somehow, these people dwell in a different China than the one that I am in.  (Hint: Go to Technorati, type in some sensitive keywords and see what is on the MSN Spaces blogs).  Anyway, I am confident that there are young and abled bodies out there who can undertake the job of addressing this fisking of this interview properly ... go for it!

[in translation]  At court, the Gang of Four and more than a dozen of their colleagues stood in a row.  But only Yao Wenyuan carried a fountain pen in his pocket, which showed why he was Mao Zedong's writer.  He began to keep a diary at age 15, and continued to write every day through the Cultural Revolution and in prison.  His diary is not just about daily trivia, but it carried his and other people's viewpoints.  In prison, he showed that he seemed to be honestly reforming himself and he listened to the lectures from the prison administrators.  This was different from the rowdiness of Jiang Qing or the silence of Zhang Chunqiao.  Every day, he read newspapers and books, he wrote self-criticisms, he talked about his viewpoints and he continued his theoretical research (especially the theory of natural dialectics) and make copious notes.
Based upon the news that he read in the newspaper, he made assessments based upon his understanding and he offered analyses and suggestions.  He asked the prison administrators to forward these to the CCP Politburo.  One time, he read in the newspapers that the people in the country had plenty of food and clothing, and that the people were dining and drinking during the Spring Festival.  He appeared to be quite worried because he believed that if this were to continue, then the food would run out in a few years' time.  So there had to be a plan to restrict the sales of food  just like before.  He asked the prison representative to tell the central government that one must struggle in hardship: "There has to be a plan about food.  We can't just eat like this."

Now this is truly shocking information, because it says that someone in the top echelon in the 1970s had no idea about how things work -- like not having to be self-sufficient in everything because you can always trade.  How many such people remain in that system?  After all, Yao Wenyuan isn't that old ...

On Nov. 22, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq handed over Saddam Hussein's most lavish palace compound to the safekeeping and control of the new Iraqi army and government, in a ceremony whose intended symbolism was as impossible to ignore as the military brass band.

"The passing of this facility is a simple ceremony that vividly demonstrates the continuing progress being made by the Iraqi government and their people," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, who handed the keys to the palaces to the governor of Salahuddin province.

But in the days after American forces and the Iraqi brass band pulled out of the circular palace drive on a bluff overlooking the Tigris River, local officials now say, looters moved in, ripping out doors, air conditioners, ceiling fans and light-switch plates from some of the compound's 136 palaces, leaving little more than plaster and dangling electric wires.

... "The palace was turned over to the Iraqi army units in the presence of Deputy Governor Abdullah Naji Jabara," [Gov. Hamed Hamood Shekti] said. "Two weeks later I heard the place was looted. Now who can I accuse of the looting?"

U.S. military spokesmen, some expressing surprise, said this month that they had not known of the alleged looting spree after the handover. They stressed that the Tikriti palaces, after Baghdad's Green Zone the most prominent U.S. installations eventually slated for return to Iraqi authority, were no longer U.S. troops' concern.  "I think what we're seeing as we're able to leave the areas and turn them over to the Iraqi government, we're giving more responsibility back to the Iraqi government," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

...In Washington, the Bush administration trumpeted the handover. "The Iraqi forces are becoming more capable on a daily basis, and so this was, I think, an important example of that process moving forward," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that day. "It was, I think, symbolically important that this was a handover of one of Saddam's former palaces that he built in his home town, and now Iraqi forces that truly represent the will of the Iraqi people are now going to have control of that palace."

As for what the US Congress Represenatives want to legislate, this is totally the business of the American people.  I don't feel that the freedom of speech of the Chinese people can be protected by the US Congress.  If the freedom of speech of the citizens of a great country has to be protected by the legislature of another country, this shows how distant the country is from the greatness that we longed for.  Opposing the shutting down of my blog and my defense of my freedom of speech should not be based upon relevant legislation by the US Congress.

To state it more clearly, we want legislation from China's Congress.  We want the Chinese to defend the freedom of speech by the Chinese.  Maybe not today, but it will be possible tomorrow.  This is the only glory and dream for continuing to live on. ...

Furthermore, at a time when globalization and politics are mixed up, I do not think that we can treat everything in black-and-white terms as being for or against the improvement of freedom and rights for the people of CHina.  On one hand, Microsoft shut down a blog to interfere with the freedom of speech in China.  On the other hand, MSN Spaces has truly improved the ability and will of the Chinese people to use blogs to speak out and MSN Messenger also affected the communication method over the Internet.  This is two sides of the practical consequences when capital pursues the market.  How the Americans judge this problem and mete out punishment is a problem for the Americasns.  If they totally prevent any compromised company from entering the Chinese market, then the Chinese netizens will not be freer at least in the short term.  Besides, we must distinguish between the sellout by Yahoo and the compromise by Microsoft, because they are completely different matters. 

El diario de Hong Kong "Sing Tao" utilizó una foto de sobre los disturbios ocurridos en Caracas en 2004 para ilustrar su información sobre las protestas ocurridas durante la reciente cumbre de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC), según denunció hoy el autor del blog informativo "ESWN".

Roland Soong, autor de "ESWN" y quien afirma que fue testigo de las protestas durante la cumbre de la OMC en Hong Kong, el pasado mes de diciembre, denunció en su página web que la foto aparecida en el mencionado diario, de tendencia conservadora, fue tomada en Caracas durante las manifestaciones de la oposición venezolana en febrero y marzo de 2004.

ESWN es uno de los blogs informativos más populares de China y Hong Kong.

La imagen publicada por "Sing Tao" muestra a un hombre cuya cara está tapada con una máscara de gas, usando un tirachinas para arrojar clavos y en el título se explica los manifestantes de Hong Kong usaron ese tipo de armas y "causaron heridos entre la policía".

Con esa foto, "Sing Tao" mostraba su apoyo a las teorías de la policía honkonguense, que aseguraba que muchos de los manifestantes estaban organizados de forma similar a grupos paramilitares y eran muy violentos.

Según sostiene Soong, la foto fue en realidad tomada durante las violentas protestas en 2004 de la oposición venezolana para exigir un referéndum revocatorio del mandato del presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.  Durante la cumbre ministerial de la OMC en Hong Kong, celebrada el pasado mes de diciembre, más de 1.000 activistas antiglobalización fueron detenidos por la policía local, entre ellos dos españoles, aunque la mayoría eran campesinos surcoreanos.

El blog "ESWN", que en 2005 se convirtió en una nueva referencia para la prensa extranjera en China, destacó que la utilización de esta foto demuestra que hubo "manipulación" sobre las manifestaciones. EFE abc/pdp

O jornal de Hong Kong Sing Tao usou uma foto dos distúrbios de 2004 em Caracas para ilustrar sua informação sobre os protestos que aconteceram durante a recente cúpula da Organização Mundial do Comércio (OMC), segundo denunciou hoje o autor do blog ESWN.

Roland Soong, autor do ESWN e que afirma que foi testemunha dos protestos durante a cúpula da OMC em Hong Kong, no último mês de dezembro, denunciou em seu site que a foto divulgada no jornal, de tendência conservadora, foi feita em Caracas durante as manifestações da oposição venezuelana, em fevereiro e março de 2004.

O ESWN é um dos blogs informativos mais populares da China e de Hong Kong.

A imagem publicada pelo Sing Tao mostra um homem usando uma máscara de gás e atiradeiras e, no título, a explicação de que os manifestantes de Hong Kong usaram esse tipo de arma e "deixaram policiais feridos".  Com essa foto, o Sing Tao mostrava seu apoio às teorias da Polícia de Hong Kong, que garantia que muitos dos manifestantes estavam organizados de forma semelhante a grupos paramilitares e eram muito violentos.

Segundo Soong, a foto foi feita durante os violentos protestos em 2004 da oposição venezuelana para exigir um plebiscito revogatório do mandato do presidente da Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.  Durante a cúpula ministerial da OMC em Hong Kong, realizada em dezembro, mais de mil ativistas antiglobalização foram detidos pela Polícia local, a maioria camponeses sul-coreanos. 

O blog ESWN, que em 2005 se transformou em uma nova referência para a imprensa estrangeira na China, destacou que a utilização da foto demonstra que houve "manipulação" sobre as manifestações.

... For whatever the bad news of the week of months in terms of civil liberties in China, Big Brother is actually already shrinking, and the space for personal expression is explanding -- constantly.  By the standards of just five years ago, the availability of information and commentary on the Internet here is mind-boggling.

This is no thanks, of course, to the Chinese government, which is openly hostile to liberalism and to the ideology of individual freedom that goes with it.  No thanks go either to shameless big American companies, like Microsoft, Yahoo and others, which help Beijing police the Internet which disingenuously proclaiming that their presence here, what their practices may be, is a net positive. ...

Now this is a static model in that the battlefield is regarded as the world of written words and the weapons of war are emails, blogs, BBS's and so on.  More recently, I am struck by the rapid emergence of multimedia modes of discourse (that is, with audio-visual elements).  For illustration, here is the blog post 酒后之作 at the blog 陈晓守的手 ("The Hand of Chen Xiaoshou").  At that blog post, you will find a song sung to some simple animation.  The title of the song is "The Reporter's Song."  The song is preceded by some comments made in a mixture of Chinese dialects, and it is doubtful that any single person can recognize all of them.
Here is a translation of the lyrics of the song:

In the media world, I am small fry.  I hold a sword in my heart and I stand on solid earth, but when my articles get edited or spiked, I feel terrible.  I work all night until I get pimples on my face.  I look to be doing great, but I am deeply anxious inside; I don't look old, but my heart is wearied; I feel superior, but my pocket is tight; I worry about gains and losses, and I keep my worries to myself.  I wake up earlier than the roosters and I go to bed later than the working girls; I am more tired than a mule and busier than an ant; I am not starving but I will never get fat; I look inside myself and see that I am a bit better than the f*cking migrant laborers!  Oh, reporter, this is like a meal without rice; oh, reporter, you are a king without a crown.  "Come on, let's go and play cards?"  "No, I'm writing a report."

Contentwise, this song is not subversive.  However, these multimedia creations will become more and more common and the content will become edgier in time.  The important thing to note is this: there is no technology from anyone -- Cisco, Yahoo, MSN Spaces or even the National Security Administration -- that can analyze, classify and filter these kinds of contents.  This will be a major development once enough Chinese users realize that.  This is like trying to attack the Great Wall with conventional weapons unsuccessfully for so long, and then comes a new weapon against which the Great Wall is totally porous.
P.S.  I have watched/listened to this clip for half a dozen times already, and I am enjoying it more and more.  It is addictive.  The long-term implication for EastSouthWestNorth is that a bridge blog is useless because such messages can no longer be translated.  The original blot post contains the lyrics and I have translated them.  But the effect is stone cold because I have totally failed to communicate the humor with the simultaneous presence of self-deprecation and self-assurance.  In that sense, this is the New China -- people have this sense of imperfection and deprivation, and yet they are confident and self-assured that nothing can be done to them and that they will win out in the end.

Both Roland Soong's EastSouthWestNorth and Jeremy Goldkorn's Danwei translate Chinese print and online news, bulletin board posts, blogs and Web site information. Instead of reading the international media's summary and selected excerpts of a whistleblower's letter two weeks after it comes out, for example, readers can access the entire letter translated into English on its publication date. Through the translation of these varied media sources, previously inaccessible to non-Chinese readers, Chinese voices may reach a global audience.

The title of the essay is One Inch Forward, One Foot Back.  That is a variation of the standard Chinese saying: One Inch Forward, One Foot Advance (得寸進尺).  I actually like the standard saying better for the Internet in China.  While the Chinese Nanny thinks that that it is holding the line by requiring real-name registration (that is, limiting the advance to one inch), more than ten million personal blogs have emerged with all sorts of marginally subversive and ambiguously critical information (that is, the advance has been much farther than one foot).

The women riot police who faced the wrath of Korean protesters during last month's World Trade Organisation mayhem said they had to act like models at a fashion show and make a quick change when trouble broke out.  But instead of the haut couture of the catwalk, they were donning full riot gear.

The 200-strong Tango Company had been put on the frontline without full kit in the hope that the sight of the less-equipped women would help ease tensions between the protesters and the fully geared-up police standing behind them.  But when the demonstrators tried to break through the lines anyway, the women - who had only handcuffs, batons and pepper spray - were forced to retreat.  "We were not running away," said Constable Leung Kam-oi, recalling the events of December 17.  "It was like a fashion show, running back behind the line and getting changed into the full riot gear we had brought along." 


Constable Leung and fellow frontline officers do not hold a grudge against the Korean farmers who attacked them with anything they could get their hands on and splashed them with a liquid that smelled like kerosene.  Senior Inspector Anita Ko Kit-nam said: "It's impossible to ask us not to go to Korea for a holiday just because of what happened." 

I have nothing against Tango and I want to hear even more Police Stories at WTO.  But when I see the same Tango story at Apple Daily, Ming Pao, Sing Pao, Oriental Daily and The Sun, then I get a little bit resentful about this transparent public relations game.  As the saying goes, I resent being made to become paranoid, but what is the motivation for doing so now?  It is as simple as giving some credit to Tango?  Or as nefarious as demonizing the demonstrators (namely, the kerosene dousing)?

Fifteen Cubans who fled their homeland and landed on an abandoned bridge piling in the Florida Keys were returned to Cuba on Monday after U.S. officials concluded that the structure did not constitute dry land.  Under the government's "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, Cubans who reach dry land in the United States are usually allowed to remain in this country; those caught at sea are sent back.  The Cubans thought they were safe Wednesday when they reached the Old Seven Mile Bridge. But the bridge, which parallels a newer one, is missing several chunks, and the Cubans reached pilings from a section that does not touch land.  Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil said officials in Washington determined the Cubans should be considered "feet wet" because they were not able to walk to land.


(in translation)  According to Shanghai University of Finance and Economics' Finance and Economics Research Institutue's Urban-Rural Economics Research Center's Shi Yufeng, the number of farmers who make less than the average income is increasing.  More than half of the peasants have family income lower than the national average.  Therefore, the unequal distribution of income for the Chinese farmers are getting more serious every day.

When it comes to income statistics, there are two numbers that are usually cited.  The mean is the arithmetic average of all the incomes (that is, you add up the incomes of everybody and you divide that by the number of people (or households)).  The median is the income level for which half the number of people make less than and the other half make more than.  It is a virtual certainty that the mean is larger than the median (and this is true even during the Cultural Revolution when almost everybody made 36 yuan a month but there were still a few that made a little bit more).  For example, in the United States, the mean household income is about US$75,000 but the median household income is only about US$44,000.  The explanation is the Bill Gates effect -- the presence of Bill Gates will bring the mean income up significantly, but it will not affect the median all.

Now let us go back to the statement -- more than half of the peasants have family income lower than the national average.  In other words, this is a statement that the median family income is lower than the mean family income.  Nobody expects otherwise.  This is a vacuous statement.  Why is it in the opening paragraph?  The rest of the article is okay, but this statement is either stupid or else an attempt to mislead.

(Reuters AlertNet)  Liu Huirong, 29, five years in prison on a charge of assault; Wang Liangping, 39, a 15-month jail sentence and Wang Zhongliang, 34, one year on a charge of creating disturbances; six others villagers were also convicted of creating disturbances but received suspended sentences.  Source: Beijing-based lawyers Wei Rujiu and Li Heping.
(Washington Post)  Liu Huirong, 29, was sentenced to five years for assaulting a policeman; Wang Liangping, 40, sentenced to 15 months and Wang Zongliang, 34, sentenced to one year, both for inciting social disorder.  Six others were convicted of causing disturbances and received suspended sentences.  Source: Beijing-based lawyer Wei Rujiu.
(SCMP)  Liu Huirong , 29, up to five years for assaulting police officers; Wang Liangping , 40, sentenced to 15 months in jail; Wang Zhongliang and Wang Hongwei were sentenced to 18 and 8 months jail respectively; Wang Xiaopan , Lu Hongping , Jiang Yonggen and Wang Fagen received suspended jail terms of up to 17 months. Wang Xinwang ( who turned government witness) was acquitted.  Source: Beijing-based lawyer Wei Rujiu and family members.

Movies and television serials from South Korea, featuring an endless number of surgically-altered actors and actresses, have been gaining popularity in China, and indeed, in the entire Asia. What triggered the current outrage, however, was the television series Jewel in the Palace, the story of how a poor orphan girl in ancient Korea managed to overcome all manners of difficulties to rise high in the king’s esteem.

The series, with its well-paced plot, pretty actresses and endless bouts of cooking contest and tear-jerking events, have taken China by storm. Activities grind to a stop whenever the episodes are shown, mostly in the evenings. Suddenly all things Korean, from cooking to costumes to its history, have become objects of interest to the Chinese. Rates for advertising spots on the show soar. Many Chinese are now taking tours to South Korea, especially to a theme park named after the main actress in the show. None of these have gone down well with Chinese filmmakers.

To rub salt into the wound, a mega-budget Chinese-made serial on the great Han emperor Wu, has been largely ignored by audience who preferred to follow the trials and tribulations of their favourite Korean actress.  This led some filmmakers to openly and bitterly complain about the “lack of taste” of the Chinese audience. “The Emperor Wu serial is every bit as interesting and well-acted as the Jewel in the Palace. Why is the audience so blind?” they asked.  

An impartial observer could have told them the first, last and ultimate test of a television serial lies in audience acceptance. It does not matter how much effort and money have gone into making a show, it is junk if it is rejected by the people. The Emperor Han serial may be magnificent — and it is, by many measures — but it is just bad luck that it has come across something that appeals more to the audience. This is what open competition is all about.

The complaints and the subsequent request for protection illustrate a shady, sorry side of the Chinese market. On one hand China is now the bogeyman who is eating everybody’s lunch. Yet, hiding in the shadows are many industries that are not equipped to cope with the pressure of doing business internationally. With China committed to open its market under its agreement with the World Trade Organisation, the days of many of these industries are numbered.


The Chinese film industry, which has just celebrated its 100th anniversary, is moribund.  For this, much of the blame must go to the filmmaking companies themselves. Just take a look at the object of contention, Jewel in the Palace. If it was made in China, it could breeze through the censors, nothing said in the show is controversial. No politics, no sex (not even a glimpse of the legs, as everyone is enclosed in those voluminous Korean hanbok), hardly any action. It is just people talking, cooking, laughing and crying. Yet it holds the entire Asia spellbound. Lured by the show, a record number of Japanese have visited Korea. In Hong Kong, conversations in the public transports are full of what happened the night before and what would happen next. Jewel in the Palace has made South Korea the Asian country after Japan to become an international film power.

So why couldn’t China, which has many times the population of South Korea, and a history reaching back 4,000 years, do it? The answer is that the producers, instead of making what the audience wants to see, make what they think the audience would like to see.  They make films under the same old, tired formula and expect to get good reception. When that fails, they complain and cry for protection.  They are, in effect, spoiled brats who must have things their way. Unless this attitude is changed, the Chinese film industry will never move beyond where it is today.

Last month, Democrat lawmaker Andrew Cheng invited [Hong Kong University virologist Guan Yi] to Legco to clarify his allegation that ran on December 9 in Toronto's The Globe and Mail.  The paper quoted him as saying: "Quite honestly, some provinces have the virus and they still haven't announced any outbreak. I can't show direct evidence because China is trying very hard to block my research. The government doesn't do any surveillance studies, but they say there is no outbreak." 

Guan has denied he made an allegation that China is covering up avian flu outbreaks.  In a written reply submitted to the Legislative Council health panel Monday, Guan insisted: "I have not said in my previous interview that the Chinese government is hiding, masking or manipulating the information on bird flu." 

Here is even more mystery:  According to The Globe and Mail (see Workopolis and Future Health Solutions), the quote was:

“Quite honestly, some provinces have the virus and they still haven’t announced any outbreak. I can show direct evidence, even though China is still trying very hard to block my research. The government doesn’t do any surveillance studies, but they say there is no outbreak.”

There is a vast difference between the sentence "I can show direct evidence" in the original Globe and Mail article versus the sentence "I can't show direct evidence" quoted in The Standard.  What is going on?

How would you define a weblogger?

Someone who has something to write, writes regularly and has a personality. The first wave of weblogs surfaced in China in late 2003 when a large group of media people had something to say. They used to write for their own newspapers and magazines and then, one after another, started their own weblogs. 

Do you think you have more freedom of speech with blogging?

There is less freedom in terms of subjects. I, as well as other bloggers, know which subjects cannot be touched. Some bloggers have had their sites closed down. They also lost all they had written because they didn't save their work. I don't want that to happen to me. But I can write about what I'm interested in, and there is no limitation on length or style. With traditional media, writing is largely for the consideration of readers, and the results fell short of me expressing my true feelings. 

How do you think weblogs will influence Chinese society?

There are many things that can't be published in newspapers or magazines but can be posted on weblogs, and this helps people to learn more about what is happening and guide them to form their own opinions. The pool of bloggers will become vast in China because Chinese people generally lack means for expression. When the group reaches tens of millions, they possibly will become a force to advance the system. 

[Oiwan Lam at InMediaHK] (in translation) At Isaac Mao's blog, he wrote that bloggers must force MSN to get out of China.  But what are their options afterwards?  Go back to blogcn in China, donews or that even more damnable bokee?  Anti and Mao chose foreign blog hosting services that are blocked in China.  But are others supposed to go back into the danger zone in which their indigenous companies help the government to censor the Internet?  While MSN is contemptible, those nationalistic websites who are hoping that MSN would shut down Anti so that they can profit from its demise are even more disgusting.

A truly open and free path is that we must condemn MSN while at the same time we must also condemn those companies that want to play on nationalism, destroy freeom of speech and rely on government power to profit.  Otherwise, we are doing exactly what they want.

[Chiu Yung's Blog]  (in translation)  Faced with the same circumstances, which BSP (Blog Service Provider) in China can say that they can do better than MSN?  Blogbus, Blogcn, Blogdriver, Donews, Sina or Netease? (and never mind that shameless Blogchina).  I dare say, if the people on top want to delete a certain blog, then the BSPs in China will oblige without further thought, and they will even voluntarily take preventative measures against "sensitive" content.

I ask which Chinese BSP has the courage to say: "Come, Anti, and set up home here.  We will protect your forever."  None.  Absolutely none.  Therefore, when the Chinese (especially those BSPs) ask the people to boycott MSN Spaces, aren't they somewhat less than righteous?

To die on MSN Spaces will at least get some international impact.  It is a glorious death for a good cause.  To die at the hands of a Chinese BSP is as light as a feather.  No one will mourn for you, because you are just one of the many mistakes.

A very unfortunate fact is right in front of us: as far as content and freedom are concerned, MSN Spaces is far better than all you BSPs.  An even more unfortunate fact in front of us is that we are not even qualified to boycott MSN at this moment.

-本当 临时欧洲

-Bill's Fortress of Solitude

What is in common about these blogs?  They are all on MSN Spaces.  (Note: This Anti blog is just as prevalent on other Blog Service Providers in China, but Technorati does not cover the other Chinese BSPs well (see Ethan Zuckerman).  So we are back to the Zen question: Is the Anti blog still at MSN Spaces?
Is it a problem for me to identify these blog posts?  Anyone who can use Technorati can find them.  Even if these blog posts get deleted, and even if these blogs are deleted totally, all it means is that they will re-surface elsewhere and all their sympathizers will do the same.

It seems that the political map in Latin America is undergoing a certain change.  But this change is in exactly the opposite direction of the world trend towards free democracy ...

The United States is still and will continue to be in the leader position in the Americas.  The political counter-current in Latin America has raised concerns among the American government, American politicians and American intellectuals.  The United States will continue to promote the democratization and liberalization in the Latin American region.  Those countries in which the left-wing counter-current political authorities are located still contain open and competitive democratic oppositionists who have international support.  The left-wing counter-current political authorities offer a counter-example as a lesson: it is necessary to rear true and powerful modern democratic political parties in Latin America, it is necessary to have truely free social systems and it is necessary to inject various global mainstream cultural trends into Latin America in order to prevent various kinds of socialisms, nationalisms and populisms to use elections to domininate the political stages of these countries.

What are we missing here?  Apart from Castro, all the other leftists -- Chavez, Lula, Kirchner, Morales, Vazquez, Bachelet and Lopez were (or will be) democratically elected in fair and open elections.  So why are they said to be counter-current?  Well, here is real deal -- unless you agree to adopt 'global mainstream cultural trends' (read IMF/WTO/USA/EU dictates), you are not a 'free democracy' even if you elect your own president and government in open and transparent elections with universal suffrage.
And if this is a counter-current, you should look back at the original current that existed in the 1980's and 1990's -- they elected governments which followed the IMF/WTO/USA/EU prescriptions but life did not improve for the majority of the population.  So that is why there is a democratic 'counter-current.'  If you want a democratic counter-counter-current, then you better believe that advocating 'global mainstream cultural trends' is NOT the right message -- the electorate had been there, they did that, they didn't like it so why would they choose it again?  The reason why the leftists are winning elections everywhere is that the countries are watching each other and they are seeing that the 'leftist' model is better than the IMF/WTO model which brought so much grief to so many.
If you a true believer in freedom and democracy, this is the problem that you should be thinking about, not about spending more money to create oppositional parties.  Giving them the right issues has greater impact than more cash (and you should not let the people who were getting the cash previously tell you otherwise).


[in translation]  On January 3, 2006, there was a large photograph on page A4 in Sing Tao and the words on the side were: "Anti-WTO protestors used powerful sligns to shoot iron bolts to attack the police."  The accompanying report as well as all other photos referred to the WTO demosntrations.  The big headline on the page was "Slings shot iron bolts, police hurt painfully."  The truth was that of the 14 prosecutions that the police made, none referred to using slings to shoot iron bolts.  The photograph used by Sing Tao of the rioter shooting iron bolts with a sling came from the 2004 February G15 summit meeting protests in Caracas, Venezuela.  Sing Tao had misappropriated the photograph.  Sing Tao's editor probably does not realize the power of the Internet as well as the omnipresence of the civilian monitors.  The website InMediaHK has reported this affair, and this is a topic that is broadly discussed on the Internet.  The only question is just which type of protest action will take place.  This was a brilliant battle in which the civilian media assumed to responsiblity to supervise and monitor mainstream media and refuse to let those renegades commit fakeries.

I went to Nujiang and deep into the canyon, I stayed with a farmer family there. When I had my breakfast or dinner, at least 3 dogs and one little pig waited on us to feed them under the table. It was so funny to eat with them ( but I was also surprised to see my friends eating pork when there was a lovely pig around). And I was amazed to watch the puppies playing with the little piggies. It was a wonderful experience.

The scenery along Nujiang is beautiful.  However, the lives of the peasants are terribly bad. I went to some poorest villages, the peasants live in very raw wood houses.  Even though the timber there is cheap, they can only afford to build a tiny house usually around 10sq m. I visited a family and saw them making To Fu Fa to celebrate new year.  A wok, an old wooden bed and some glass bottles are the total assets of the family of three. 

Despite life is difficult, they don't find themselves very poor, they love their village, they love NuJiang and they love their land. However, the proposed water dams will definitely further worsen their livelihoods in the future. This is very unfortunate.

I have been thinking a lot for the past week, especially about the problem of over-consumption. Electricity won't cost us much who live in a developed city, but the social cost is very huge. We have to sacrifice the beautiful scenery of Nujiang for 13 water dams and hydro-electricity plants, we have to take away the lands from the farmers. (Now, I have to switch off some lights first).  But do we really need so much electricity?

I had barely sat down when I heard a voice from the other bathroom stall saying, "How are you?" I don't know what got into me, but I answered, somewhat embarrassed, "Doin' just fine." And the other person said, "So what are you up to?" (What kind of a question is that?)

At that point, I was thinking, "This is too bizarre," so I said, "Uh, I'm like you - just traveling." At this point I was just trying to get out as fast as I could when I heard another question. "Can I come over?" O.K., this question was just too weird for me, but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I answered: "No. I'm a little busy right now."

Then I heard the person say, nervously: "Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering all my questions."

Followup to Chinese thing, off to CES  Scobleizer

I have been talking to lots of people today, though, inside and outside of Microsoft. In every instance they asked me to keep those conversations confidential. Why? Cause we’re talking about international relations here and the lives of employees. I wish I could go into it more than that, but I can’t. Not yet. See, it’s real easy as Americans to rattle the door and ask for change, but we don’t live there. Saying “give them the finger” isn’t that easy when there are real human lives at stake. And I don’t need to spell out what I’m talking about here, do I?

One thing I’ve heard is that we spell out our terms of service very explicitly on MSN Spaces. Here in the United States we pull down stuff too at government request, like child pornography or other illegal content.

The MSN Spaces blogger at The Line One (第一排) had the following correspondence exchange with MSN Spaces:

(in translation)

I have previously reported two instances of abuse on MSN Spaces sites and they were appropriately dealt with.  I thank you.  But today I want to complain about a blog that I read every day and which had no abusive conduct.  More than 600 people subscribe to it on bloglines and the author is the renowned media person Anti, who was a judge in this year's world blog competition.  Why did you shut down his blog?  Please give a reason to an ordinary user who has always supported Microsoft and your work.  Is there no freedom of speech in China?  I await your response, thanks.

Dear Respected User, how are you?  We thank you for your letter to the MSN Spaces Technical Support Center concerning abuse.  We are sorry, but this Space touched upon political factors and we had to close it down.  We are deeply sorry to have caused you any inconvenience.  Regards, Cai Lingyan (蔡凌燕), MSN Spaces Technical Support Center.

Touched upon politics?  Which rule of conduct of MSN Spaces did that break?  I went through the Code of Conduct and I could not find it.  Thanks.

Dear Respected User, how are you?  We thank you for your letter to the MSN Spaces Technical Support Center concerning abuse.  Concerning your question, we need more time to make additional assessment and study.  Although we are unable to give you an exact time about when the problem will be solved, we ask you to trust that we are trying our best to solve that problem.  We are sorry that we cannot provide an immediate answer, but we will try our best to solve that problem for you as quickly as possible.  Regards, Cai Lingyan (蔡凌燕), MSN Spaces Technical Support Center.

Related linkRunning a Service in China  Michael Connolly, a product unit manager on MSN Spaces

In China, there is a unique issue for our entire industry: there are certain aspects of speech in China that are regulated by the government. We’ve made a choice to run a service in China, and to do that, we need to adhere to local regulations and laws. This is not unique to MSN Spaces; this is something that every company has to do if they operate in China. So, if a Chinese blog on MSN Spaces is reported to us by the community, or the Chinese government, as offensive, we have to ask ourselves: is this blog adhering to our code of Conduct? In many cases, the answer is “yes, this site is fine”. But, in some cases, the answer is “no”. And when an offense is found that actually breaks a national law, we have no choice but to take down the site. [emphasis added; there are two components in this response -- in the first instance, Who reported Anti?  Was it a member of the community such as the commentator at Bokee (see Good And Bad Things Happened To Mr. Anti) or the Chinese government?  In the second instance, it was Microsoft's determination that Anti broke a national law.]

Related link: Microsoft censors Chinese blogger.  Andrew Donoghue, ZDNet UK.

On the afternoon when Microsoft deleted my space, I did not feel anything at all.  A few days ago, I was at Peking University speaking to students and someone asked me whether MSN Spaces would be shut down on account of me.  My response was, "When the warning comes, Microsoft will sell me out first.  So everybody should feel free to use MSN Spaces."  I sensed that the day will be coming.  Over the last days, the daily traffic was about 15,000, and then everything was deleted.  Damn Great Wall, damn Microsoft.  I will make Microsoft pay.

That night, I felt bad and I cried.

It is so hard to be a free Chinese person.  This year, my blog was shut down twice because I supported media (Chinese Youth Daily and Beijing News).  When I was in Hong Kong, I told the reporters that I know where the bottom line is.  The problem is that when my fellow media are in trouble, it is my obligation as a member of the news media to offer support immediately.  Under this type of moral obligation, personal bottom lines are irrelevant.  One can continue to live meticulously and technically, but one must also have another side that puts everything aside to express true feelings.

Why is this so important to me? Well, you ignore the voices of individual people at your peril. And, I’ve been raised by people who taught me the value of standing up for the little guy. My mom grew up in Germany. Her mom stood up to the Nazis (and got a lot of scorn from family and friends for doing so).

I do believe in a slippery slope. If they come after you today, maybe they’ll come after me tomorrow. Gotta stop this kind of stuff while we’re still talking about you.

Oh, and to: Zhao Jing, aka Michael Anti I’d like to offer you a guest blog here on my blog. I won’t censor you and you can write whatever you’d like.

If and when Michael Anti begins a guest blog at Scobleizer, I promise that I will mirror everything and ask all my readers to do so as well such that it becomes impossible to banish, block, censor, ban, whatever.
P.S.  Anti is reviving his Blog-city site.  This foreign site is not accessible inside China.  I am offering an alternate version without the full functionality at, and you have information to subscribe through feedburner and gmail.  I use my Latin American site because it is unlikely to come to the attention of the Chinese Internet censors.

The world is flat?  In New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's bestselling book for the whole year, the Internet seems to have broken down all the boundaries between nations and between people.  Various types of information flow unrestricted through the fiber optic cables at the bottom of oceans.

But in practice, there are objective differences in language.  The information relay between the Chinese- and English-language blogospheres was in an imbalanced situation from the very first day.  "If an event was not described in English, it did not really happen," according to Chinese judge Michael Anti at the Deutsche Welle Best of Blogs Competition.  Currently, Chinese intellecturals go to the English-language media to get the first-hand news about what is happening on the other side of the ocean.  But most European and American persons can only depend on non-indigenous foreign correspondents based in China to observe the rapid changes in this mysterious eastern country.

The appearance of EastSouthWestNorth has more or less altered this situation.  This blog run by a Hong Kong person was able to use astonishing speed and accurate expression to disseminate in English the most important viewpoints in the Chinese media and blogs.  In the many news stories in China this fall, EastSouthWestNorth has unwittingly influenced the viewpoints of the foreign media organizations based in China, in terms of opinions as well as the manner in which suddenly breaking incidents ought to be handled.

From the viewpoint of communications theory, the information in mass media does not flow directly to the audience.  Rather, they go through those opinion leaders who have frequent contact with media information in order to influence more individuals.  Without doubt, EastSouthWestNorth has begun to play the role of opinion leader in the process by which information is spread from the east to the west.

On one hand, it was only forty days when Hwang's American collaborator announced that he has withdrawn on "ethical" grounds, twenty-three days since television network MBC aired a program and seven days when Seoul University began its investigation before the matter was concluded.  On the other hand, it is speculated that the case would have drawn on forever in China (long enough that no one would remember it).
On one hand, no senior Korean political figure said anything in defense of the "national hero" and "leading scientist", made obstructions or interferences or looked for scapegoats on Hwang's behalf.  On the other hand, it is speculated that the case would have been banned from public discussion, or obstructed and interfered with by people in politics, academics, departments and local governments due to personal or group interests, or else an unfortunate assistant or graduate student will emerge to accept the blame.
On one hand, the results of the investigation in Korea were open, clear and timely, and Hwang has been stripped of his academic duties and research funds.  On the other hand, it is speculated that such an investigation would be dragged out over a long time with an ambiguously worded report that would be kept secret, while the principal continues to function as before.

Of course, all this is speculation.  We will know what to look for when it does happen.

During the height of the Brazilian military dictatorship of Gen. João Baptista Figueiredo (1979-1985), one political satire and humor magazine, Pasquim, developed an ingenious ploy for publishing criticisms of the military that got by the censors. Whever the magazine meant to criticize the Brazilian dictatorship, it simply substituted the word "Greek" for "Brazilian." At the time, Greece also had a military government. Pasquim published numerous articles of gross human rights abuses by the Greek military government. It took government authorities a year to figure out that the magzine was publishing criticism of the Brazilian government to a select segment of the audience that understood the ploy.

It would now appear that there is a brand new occupation, in which each and every thing that appears in Beijing News is subjected to this type of interpretation: (see comments January # 005 and January # 003, and the famous bird flock photo at the bottom of From Inside Beijing News - Part 1).
The fun and joy of this exercise is that the thing in itself is not damnable -- if you whine about it, then everyone will think that you are paranoid and grossly over-reacting, and that is part of the entertainment.  This is subversion at its best.